Puppy Or Adult? Age Considerations When Choosing A Dog

Puppy Or Adult

Puppy or Adult?  Which is Best? Which is easier? How do you choose?

If you are uncertain, perhaps this article will help you decide.

Who can resist the cuteness factor that accompanies little puppies – their playfulness, curiosity, kisses?  Puppy Breath? There is no question that puppies can be irresistible. But with all that cuteness comes a lot of work.

Adolescents are like big puppies, still full of fun and playfulness. They may be a few steps along the road towards training knowing some basic commands and where to potty. But like human teens, they seem to have a mind of their own and can be very difficult at times.

Adults are more stable and predictable. Training may or may not have been accomplished but you may have a better understanding of who they are, what size they will be and what their personality has become. They are not the so-called blank slate that puppy buyers hope to get.

Seniors are the most settled and may be the ideal choice for older owners. Depending on the breed, they may have plenty of energy and playfulness in them, but the hyperactivity of youth has diminished.  With age comes a few health problems, but you are likely to know about them before you get the dog so there aren’t any surprises.

All dogs get sick and young dogs can inherit genetic conditions, but you won’t know until the get older.

So, what will it be for you? A Puppy or Adult?

Will you choose a Puppy or Adult, Adolescent or Senior?

So, how old will the dog be when it comes to your house?  Young Puppy?  Older Puppy, Adolescent?  Young or Middle-aged Adult?  Senior?

There are advantages and disadvantages to all ages, but the right choice will depend on what is most comfortable for you.

Young Puppies

A white Maltipoo puppy against a dark background
Maltipoo Puppy

Most puppies go to their new homes between 8 and 12 weeks of age. If they go before 8 weeks, that are at a disadvantage from a socialization point of view. Many think they are a blank slate ready to be molded to the perfect puppy.

A part of this reasoning is true, but personality is determined by both genetics and environment and as of this writing, no one has been able to determine precisely how much of them is determined by nature or nurture.

A puppy that begins a training program at 8 weeks old depending on how well it is undertaken has a good shot at being a well-behaved adult dog.

It takes a consistent, dedicated owner to do this. Potty training may be difficult, if not time-consuming in some breeds and leaving an 8-week old puppy alone for long periods is not advised.

Where to Find Puppies

Puppies usually come from breeders, but they can also be purchased from pet stores (not advised) or rescues. There is a big difference between breeders.

Some are show breeders who may have one or two litters a year.  Their many purpose in breeding is finding the next Grand Champion. They may be the best source for a pet or show-quality puppy. Show quality puppies are going to be much more expensive.

Other breeders may participate in other types of dog sports or enjoy breeding as a hobby or a way to add a little income to the family. Most do so out of the home or own a small kennel. 

Large commercial breeders own kennels and breed many litters per year.  Not all commercial kennels are puppy mills, but some may be.

Pet stores are not the best place to buy a puppy. No reputable breeder would sell their puppies to a pet store and you will never know where the puppies began their life prior to arriving at the store. Puppies from pet stores are usually as expensive as buying from a breeder.  Sometimes they are more costly.

Rescues, Shelters and humane societies may have puppies from time to time, but you normally would not have your choices of breeds. Puppies from shelters may also be less healthy because they have come from questionable situations. This is the least expensive way to obtain a puppy.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Young Puppies

A Puppy sittng down on an armchair
Puppy or Adult? Pick a Puppy


  • If chosen from a reputable breeder, your puppy is going to be health and have a good personality. The closer the puppy conforms to the breed standard, the more likely you can predict how he will look and act as an adult.
  • Best chance of being able to choose the gender or color of the puppy.
  • A good breeder will be able to help you decide which puppy would be best for your situation.
  • If trained and socialized well, the puppy has a good chance of developed into a great adult dog


  • May be the most expensive way to obtain a puppy
  • May have to wait for your perfect puppy
  • Time consuming to socialize and train a puppy
  • Pottying mistakes
  • Puppies can be destructive  (chewing, digging, destroying)
  • Will need to be fed at least 3 times a day
  • Expensive vet bills (shots, wormings, spay or neuter)

Older Puppies, Adolescents, Very Young Adults

Two puppies on a green grass field
Puppy or Adult? Why not an Adolescent?

We started discussing puppies or adult dogs as possible candidates for our next canine best friend.  Puppies or Adults are not the only choices when considering age. 

Older Puppies and Adolescents may be a good choice if the dog has already begun some training and is housebroken.  Some of the harder parts have already been done and now you can concentrate on more serious obedience training.

The drawback is that the Adolescent period is probably one of the most difficult times in a dog’s life. It is also the time when many dogs are relinquished to shelters because their owners can’t handle them.  

High energy along with hormonal changes can make even a good puppy forget everything she once knew. An adolescent can make a good pet if chosen wisely.  Get as much information as you can about the health status, behavioral tendencies, temperament and why the dog is available for adoption.

Where to Find Older Puppies, Adolescents, Young Adults

The best place to look for older puppies and adolescents is at a shelter or rescue organization. It is a sad truth that many of the dogs relinquished to shelters are adolescents or young adults. There is usually nothing wrong with the dog.

 Some breeders may also have older pups that they were holding back for breeding purposes but chose not to breed. Do not expect these dogs to be at a bargain price as the breeder has probably spent considerable time working with them. Check the price range for the breeder’s puppies and plan to pay accordingly. 

If the breeder is selling the adolescent because it is unsuitable for breeding, find out why.  They may have not passed health clearances or be too small to breed. 

If the puppy has spent most of his life in a kennel situation, they may not have gotten the socialization and training they needed. Ask why the dog is available and find out any details you think would help you make an informed decision.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Adolescent Dogs


  • Some Training may have begun, maybe potty trained
  • Will have had the necessary shots, worming and neuter/spay operation
  • Will only need to eat twice a day
  • Easier to find:  may dogs in rescue situations are this age


  • May have behavioral problems
  • Harder to find the breed of your choice
  • May have some health problems
  • Will still need training, socialization

Adult Dogs

A small dog with a red hair tie sitting down in a bathroom
Puppy or Adult ?

An adult dog is a good choice if you don’t want to mess with the awkward puppy stage or the adolescent phase.  

Smaller dogs mature faster than larger dogs, but most dogs do not become fully mature until they are about two years old.

Adult dogs can make ideal pets. They are generally calmer and have some training in their background. Some are completely housebroken were others are not.  Some come with  a few minor problems, others have some major baggage to work out.  

Most shelters are fairly good at doing a little behavioral evaluation, so you are likely to know something about the dog you are interested in adoption. 

Most shelters will also provide some medical attention usually by a local veterinarian. Dogs from shelters will be up to date on their vaccines, have had fecal exams and have been spayed or wormed. Some rescue organizations will also provide dental cleaning and any other veterinary procedures that the dog may need.  Expect to pay more for a dog through a rescue than a municipal shelter or ASPCA.

Again, sometimes you might be able to adopt an adult from a breeder who is downsizing or retiring one of her breeding dogs.  Reputable breeders will do genetic testing and other yearly checks.  If something comes back abnormal, the breeder will make the decision not to breed. 

For the most part, these dogs are healthy, but you will also be informed about why the dog is available. (If not, ask)

Look for these dogs at a shelter, rescue or even a retired breeding dog from a reputable breeder.

TAKE a look at our page on adopting an older dog HERE.

Where to Find Adult Dogs

Look for adult dogs in all the same places you would find puppies, adolescents, and seniors.

Reputable breeders, local rescue organizations, municipal shelters or humane societies. 

Is a friend trying to re-home his dog? Do your research before agreeing. You might feel obliged to help a friend or feel sorry for the dog. If the dog is not right for you or has some major behavioral issues that may be beyond your tolerance level, by all means graciously decline. You will be doing yourself and the dog a favor. 

Dogs that have been moved from one situation to another to another begin to develop their own ways of dealing with changes. Fear, anxiety are but two problems that can occur. Both can be manifested in problem behaviors.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Adult Dogs


  • Past the Puppy and Adolescent Stages
  • Many are housebroken,
  • Many have had some training in basic commands and how to walk on a leash.
  • Easier to find an adult dog available at a shelter or rescue
  • If gotten from a rescue or shelter some behavioral evaluation has been done and the results will be available to you.


  • May not have a lot of choice in breed selection if adopted through local sources
  • May still have some behavioral issues, some minor, some major
  • More expensive than senior dogs
  • May have health problems, but you will be notified of them. (If not, ask)


Close up of an old black dog
Puppy or Adult: Choose a Senior

Senior dogs are often overlooked but might make the perfect pet, especially for an older person or a family with children. Much of the craziness of youth has worn off, but they still make excellent companions. A good choice for someone who enjoys walking or just wants companionship, seniors are usually leash trained and enjoy walking.  

Families who have children may also benefit from adopting a senior dog. Kids that are not accustomed to a rambunctious puppy or adolescent will find a  senior more to their liking.

Most are past the stages where digging, chasing, chewing, and destructive behaviors are more common.  They are calmer and past their high energy years.  If you love a high energy breed but don’t have the energy yourself to meet those demands, the senior dog would be perfect.

They may have a few health issues but many are healthy and fit. Even if there are some problems, a daily pill maybe all that is necessary to keep them comfortable and healthy.

Many people gravitate towards senior dogs because they know that they are the least likely to get adopted and the most likely to be euthanized. The thought of truly saving a life is very rewarding.

It goes without saying, though, that you won’t be able to share your life with a senior as long as you would have if you chose an 8 week old.

Where to Find Seniors

You are just as likely to find a senior from a breeder as you are to locate one at a shelter or rescue.  

Breeders may need to find a good home for one of their older dogs that are no longer of reproductive age. Depending on the quality of the breeder this could be a good choice. 

A rescue or shelter is likely to have some senior dogs available for adoption. Many times, these dogs are there for no fault of their own–their owner dies, life situations change, or owners don’t want them any more.

Yes, dog lovers have a hard time with this last reason. The dog may have developed a health problem that the owner does want to deal with or can not afford. Some are just stray dogs that have wandered away.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Seniors


  • Calmer, less high-strung, less energy demands
  • Destructive habits of youth are gone (digging, chewing, etc.)
  • You’ll be saving a life


  • Will not be able to share your life as long with a senior dog
  • May have expensive health problems
  • May need daily health care such as treating skin infections or giving a pill for arthritis. (most likely not a big disadvantage)

Need More Help Choosing the Perfect Dog? In these two articles, we examine all the factors that go into making the right decision. Just like choosing between a puppy or adult, there are many other decisions to contemplate. May we suggest…

Choose the Right Dog Breed Part One

Choose the Right Dog Breed Part Two

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